The Dragon Mirror

No, I’m not talking about Dragon’s version of Miracle Fusion. Instead I’m talking about one of the most relevant match ups of the current format; the Chaos Dragon mirror match. Since Dallas, Chaos Dragons have been gaining momentum on the competitive circuit. Last month the deck was able to take both first and second place of YCS Philadelphia. Its explosiveness, favorable match ups, and consistency leave it as the top choice of many players headed into this weekend’s World Championship Qualifier. That means that if you will be picking up the deck this weekend, you better be expecting a lot of mirror matches.  I’m back this week and I’m going to be talking about siding in the mirror, general strategies you should use when approaching the mirror, and specific cards to give you an advantage over your opponent.

Cards to Side

Electric Virus – Of all of the cards you can side for the mirror, this above all the rest is one you should be siding. It is extremely powerful. If your opponent leaves their Red-Eyes on the field, you can punish them for it by Electric Virusing it and using its effect to bring out a Dragon of your own. Electric Virus does not only take Dragons, it also takes machines. This means that you can take opposing Card Troopers to start milling or a Zenmaines that they are hiding behind and tribute it off for a Chaos monster.

Victoria – As you’ll see a bit later, one of the strategies games two and three in the Dragon mirror is to not leave Dragons on the field for your opponent to Electric Virus. Victoria doesn’t require them to have Dragons on the field as it punishes them for having any in their graveyard. Simply reviving almost any Dragon and attacking can wipe out over half of your opponent’s life points. And because Victoria is a fairy, you do not have to worry about them stealing it with Electric Virus and taking Dragons from your graveyard.

Koa’ki Meiru Drago – Drago is a neat card to side in the mirror match. It makes it so that neither player can special summon lights or darks, but you must reveal a Dragon at the end of your turn to keep it face up on the field. This card acts as a Royal Oppression in this match up. It allows you to go off and drop several Dragons before summoning him to push through for game without having to worry about Gorz or Tragoedia. It is also not bad to float him as your opponent has only a few outs to him; Ryko, Card Trooper, and Electric Virus and not revealing a Dragon. All of which are not bad for you as it almost certainly ensures your opponent won’t have any additional aggression the turn they get rid of Drago. This card’s main downfall is that it is a prime target for Victoria if it is milled.

Tragoedia – As you will see later, this mirror is all about waiting for your opponent to go off first. Then, if they are not able to kill you, you can kill them. Tragoedia helps with the not dying part. This card is especially important as often times your opponent will be able to OTK you through Gorz by using Photon Strike Bounzer. Tragoedia cannot be negated by Bounzer making it even better in the mirror. Once you have successfully stopped their OTK with Tragoedia, you can use its other effect to take one of your opponent’s monsters. Pitch a dead Pulsar to take their live one, then copy the level of the one you pitched and XYZ summon. Or drop a Red-Eyes to take their Red-Eyes. The combos with this card are endless.

Maxx “C” – Just when we thought this little insect was gone, it proves to be useful once again. Maxx “C” plays a very similar role to Koa’ki Meiru Drago as it allows you to go off and lock your opponent from doing so back. It doesn’t share the same downside to Drago and if it is milled there is no risk of your opponent taking it with Victoria. It also plays important roles in other match ups like Wind-Ups and Inzektors.

How to Side

If we’re adding in all of these cards then we’re going to have to take a few cards out as well. The first cards you’re going to want to take out are Heavy Storm and any Mystical Space Typhoons or Forbidden Lances you may play. All of these cards serve almost no purpose. One might argue that Lance makes your monsters bigger than theirs, but you don’t want to get yourself into a situation where you have to Lance their Pulsar only for them to get back Red-Eyes.

The next thing you want to take out is Lyla. At most, you could keep in one to toolbox with Charge to mill or kill Future Fusion. Really though, Lyla serves little purpose in games two and three. Throwing away cards just to mill isn’t really how you want to be approaching this match up. They’re almost certainly going to run over it after one turn of milling.

Since your taking out Lylas, you don’t want to keep in Solar Recharges. 3 Recharges with 6 targets is already a bit iffy at times. The last thing you want to do is drop that count even further and keep in Recharges. Especially considering how important Ryko is in the mirror.

Most of the time this will suffice as you will not have that many cards to side in. On the off chance that you do or your opponent gives you a reason to side back into Lylas (refer to Fang Chen’s decklist from Philadelphia), the next card you should be siding out is Effect Veiler. The card only has minimal use in the match up. It’s not horrible as it can still hit a key Tour Guide or Chaos Sorcerer, but ultimately there are better cards.


Anybody that thinks this is not a good mirror match is really only thinking in terms game 1. Game 1 is generally “I’ll play my cards, you play your cards, and we’ll see who has the better hand.” That, thankfully, is not how games 2 and 3 are played.

Unfortunately, that is how game 1 will probably be determined. You’re going to have to rely on good draws and getting some timely Rykos off as Ryko on an opposing Light-Pulsar will make him miss timing.

One card that will make a difference game 1 in the mirror is Queen Dragon Djinn. This card is the absolute nuts in general as you can revive Red-Eyes as a beater or Pulsar that will still get his effect when he is destroyed. The reason this card is so good in the mirror is that it makes it so that other Dragon monsters you control cannot be destroyed by battle while it’s on the field. This is key as often times you opponent will have Red-Eyes on the field game 1. It is unlikely that if they have Red-Eyes up, they will have left you a Queen Dragon Djinn. However, if they already killed Djinn and you summon a Dragon and remove it for a Red-Eyes of your own, you can revive Djinn and then crash your Red-Eyes into theirs. Djinn does not require it to have any materials attached to it for its “Dragons can’t die in battle” effect.  This will allow you to keep your Red-Eyes while theirs dies.

The flip side to this is that Djinn is rarely viable games 2 and 3 as it is a Dragon, and more importantly an Electric Virus target. That means that if you’re going to be making a rank 4 in these games, it should probably be a Utopia or Roach if you play it. It is also significantly harder to make a rank 4 in the second half of the match as you shouldn’t have Lylas in your deck.

This brings me into my next point. The most important thing in the mirror match is you have to play around Electric Virus. Game 1 it’s fine to float a Red-Eyes and Lightpulsar. Games 2 and 3 not so much. You will be severally if you make this play then. It is very easy to do 8000 damage when your opponent gives you a 2800 Monster Reborn for free.

Game 1 it is fairly safe to make a Zenmaines first turn with a Tour Guide. Game 2, Zenmaines will be an easy Virus target and since you can tribute for both Lightpulsar and Darkflare, you’re not going to want to hand them that for free. It is much better to float Tour Guide and Sangan first turn in games 2 and 3 as it does not make you vulnerable to Virus and it will allow you to search a Virus of your own once Sangan is destroyed.

Chaos Sorcerer is very important in the second half of the match. It and Black Luster are the only Chaos monsters that are not Virus targets. Dropping a Sorcerer puts a lot of pressure on them to make a play. Often times they will have to deal with your Sorcerer by dropping a Dragon to run it over. This will give you a Virus target and let you run wild next turn.

If you are forced to make a play with a Dragon, try to end with a Photon Strike Bounzer. There are very few one card outs to this guy. He himself is not a Virus target and often times to get over him they will have to drop a Red-Eyes. If you drop a Pulsar you can just XYZ with it to get rid of the Virus target. If you drop a Red-Eyes, it’s staying for the turn. Forcing them to drop the Red-Eyes will put you in a very powerful position and you will easily be able to capitalize.

As you can probably tell, the mirror match is all about playing around the Virus. If you don’t and they do, they’ll demolish you in the mirror. Games 2 and 3 are very skillful and they almost always come down to who can play the match up better. Practice is always the key in any sort of skillful mirror. Playtest and learn the ins and outs of the mirror. These are some of the things I’ve picked up along the way. Nationals is only a few days away. I hope to see you all there. I’m looking forward to an exciting weekend in Columbus! As always, play hard or go home!

Patrick Hoban

Patrick Hoban

Patrick Hoban

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